Stephen Mack Jones

Author of
  • August Snow
    Soho Press, 2017
  • Lives Laid Away
    Soho Press, 2019

Stephen Mack Jones is the author of the critically acclaimed Detroit-based thriller novel AUGUST SNOW, published by Soho Press. Mr. Jones, an accomplished playwright (Back in the World, The American Boys, Cadillac Kiss) and published poet, worked in advertising and marketing communications for thirty-years before turning to fiction. August Snow was selected for the Michigan Notable Book Award, 2018. He and his wife, Mary Kate, have three children and live in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The second in the August Snow thriller series, LIVES LAID AWAY, was released this January.

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Books by Stephen

August Snow

An August Snow Novel, Book #1

From the wealthy suburbs to the remains of Detroit’s bankrupt factory districts, August Snow is a fast-paced tale of murder, greed, sex, economic cyber-terrorism, race and urban decay.

Tough, smart, and struggling to stay alive, August Snow is the embodiment of Detroit. The son of an African-American father and a Mexican-American mother, August grew up in the city’s Mexicantown and joined the police force only to be drummed out by a conspiracy of corrupt cops and politicians. But August fought back; he took on the city and got himself a $12 million wrongful dismissal settlement that left him low on friends. He has just returned to the house he grew up in after a year away, and quickly learns he has many scores to settle.

It’s not long before he’s summoned to the palatial Grosse Pointe Estates home of business magnate Eleanore Paget. Powerful and manipulative, Paget wants August to investigate the increasingly unusual happenings at her private wealth management bank. But detective work is no longer August’s beat, and he declines. A day later, Paget is dead of an apparent suicide—which August isn’t buying for a minute.

What begins as an inquiry into Eleanore Paget’s death soon drags August into a rat’s nest of Detroit’s most dangerous criminals, from corporate embezzlers to tattooed mercenaries.

Praise for August Snow

August Snow is one of my favorite books that I've read recently, and I'm not just saying that . . . The plot just takes off . . . This book is so good, I actually put it down, and I briefly entertained the notion of moving back to Detroit.

Nancy Pearl on NPR’s Morning Edition

[A] witty, mayhem-packed first novel . . . Snow’s own voice has echoes of Raymond Chandler’s. Be assured that when the showdown comes, Snow—an action-hero with the heart of a mensch—and his crew prove up to that task.

The Wall Street Journal

August Snow is one of my favorite books that I've read recently, and I'm not just saying that . . . The plot just takes off . . . This book is so good, I actually put it down, and I briefly entertained the notion of moving back to Detroit.

Nancy Pearl, NPR’s Morning Edition

Stephen Mack Jones's rock-solid debut, August Snow, is powered by the outgoing personality of the title hero and his deep affections for his hometown of Detroit. This author proves himself a natural entertainer.

Chicago Tribune

Jones, a Detroit-area poet and playwright brings the city, its environs, and its eateries to vital life in a mystery coiled around the contemporary crime du jour of cyber-finance meddling. His is that rare tale that, despite its thriller-level violence, maintains a fiercely warm heart at its core—and ends far too quickly.

The Boston Globe

This debut novel by poet and playwright Jones offers a welcome inside view of a city in turmoil and the viewpoint of a Mexican and African American protagonist who now finds himself among gentrifiers . . . where shelves lack heroes of color, add Jones’s work.

Booklist

Strong prose and a hero with a distinctive multicultural background (August is half African-American, half Mexican) . . . Convincing smartass dialogue brings the Detroit denizens of poet and play-wright Jones's first novel to life.

Publishers Weekly

Drawing on the hard-boiled detective template established by Raymond Chandler and refined by Robert B. Parker, Jones introduces a sleuth who is noble, steadfast in a fight with his fists or guns, and manages to charm the ladies. Readers will definitely want to see more of August Snow.

Library Journal

[A] hugely likable hero who uses his wealth to bring his neighborhood back to life; a feel for the vitality and pride in run-down urban neighborhoods as good as George Pelecanos on Washington, D.C.; appealing supporting characters who give life to the book's theme of the solace to be found in communities. It adds up to a very pleasurable read . . . We are at the beginning of an excellent new series.

Kirkus Reviews

As far as compelling reads, this book is what you want. The book takes the reader into the depths of Detroit, exploring, race, class and the cities that contain it all.

The Rumpus

Detective fiction needs a shot in the arm every now and again. That was the feeling of reading Stephen Mack Jones . . . The August Snow series is as promising as any crime fiction to come around in a long while, tapping into the iconoclasm and social justice streaks of midcentury noirs, but taking them in a modern direction, exposing human trafficking rings, abuses of immigrant communities, gentrification, and economic declines and revivals. It’s heady, exhilarating stuff.

CrimeReads

[A] polished, gripping debut. Poet Stephen Mack Jones’ novel bristles with energy, compassion, humor and a page-turning plot.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

[Stephen Mack Jones] has deftly created a unique multi-faceted character in the best hard-boiled tradition, easily enjoyed by those who appreciate quick-thinking, fast-shooting detectives. This is a well-polished first novel with exceptionally strong characters and unexpected plot twists; it’s a superb start for a new series.

Lansing State Journal

Mack Jones’s prose is razor sharp and bleeds compassion. Set in Detroit, this noir novel has energy and wit to spare. A stellar debut.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ​
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Lives Laid Away

An August Snow Novel, Book #2

Detroit ex-cop August Snow takes up vigilante justice when his beloved neighborhood of Mexicantown is caught in the crosshairs of a human trafficking scheme.

When the body of an unidentified young Hispanic woman dressed as Queen Marie Antoinette is dredged from the Detroit River, the Detroit Police Department wants the case closed fast. Wayne County Coroner Bobby Falconi gives the woman’s photo to his old pal ex-police detective August Snow, insisting August show it around his native Mexicantown to see if anyone recognizes her. August’s good friend Elena, a prominent advocate for undocumented immigrants, recognizes the woman immediately as a local teenager, Isadora del Torres.

Izzy’s story is one the authorities don’t want getting around—and she’s not the only young woman to have disappeared during an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid, only to turn up dead a few weeks later. Preyed upon by the law itself, the people of Mexicantown have no one to turn to. August Snow, the son of an African-American cop and a Mexican-American painter, will not sit by and watch his neighbors suffer in silence. In a guns-blazing wild ride across Detroit, from its neo-Nazi biker hole-ups to its hip-hop recording studios, its swanky social clubs to its seedy nightclubs, August puts his own life on the line to protect the community he loves.

Praise for Lives Laid Away

August Octavio Snow is a big Detroit booster . . . Stephen Mack Jones picks up his gung-ho protagonist where the author left him in his first novel, August Snow—cleaning up his beat-up neighborhood in Mexicantown.

The New York Times Book Review

Hard-driving noir, with a strong dose of neighborhood camaraderie; for read-alike comparisons, think Easy Rawlins and his close-knit L.A. neighborhood meet Jack Reacher.

Booklist

Superior . . . August Snow is an uncompromising crusader with a sense of humor reminiscent of Robert Parker's Spenser. He merits a long literary life.

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

It's hard to believe this is only the second mystery from [Jones]—with a well tangled plot, excellent pacing, and the deft mixture of toughness and generosity in his protagonist, August Snow, this is a terrific new book and a great series.

Kingdom Books

Detective fiction needs a shot in the arm every now and again. That was the feeling of reading Stephen Mack Jones . . . The August Snow series is as promising as any crime fiction to come around in a long while, tapping into the iconoclasm and social justice streaks of midcentury noirs, but taking them in a modern direction, exposing human trafficking rings, abuses of immigrant communities, gentrification, and economic declines and revivals. It’s heady, exhilarating stuff.

CrimeReads

This is noir as it was meant to be: incisive, socially conscious, distinctly situated, and told with real style.

Literary Hub

An old-fashioned, guns a-blazing ripsnorter—and boy, are its pulp roots showing.

Mystery Scene Magazine

August Snow combines strength, vulnerability, and resolve — all necessary to the construction of a hero. Snow’s sense of honor is a liability in certain parts of Detroit — as it is most places — but the thought of abandoning it is never on the table. Razor-sharp characterization, an engaging style, and Jones’s intimate knowledge of Motor City culture give us hope for an enduring series and many years of entertainment.

Loren D. Estleman, author of the Amos Walker novels

August Snow brings diversity to the genre and the stories are both gritty and clever. The Detroit setting is beautifully done. He takes a seat right alongside other great Michigan private eye writers like (Estleman) and Steve Hamilton. I’m hoping this is going to be a very long-lived series.

Robin Agnew, The Oakland Press

A terrific story . . . The setup allows Jones to deliver some stinging observations about our current immigration policies, leavening his heavy themes with a judicious amount of dry humor.

Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

Jones’s action-packed book has echoes of Raymond Chandler’s banter and bursts of Dashiell Hammett’s violence, with a tip of the porkpie hat to Walter Mosley. What’s more, Lives Laid Away delivers a bracing amount of rough humor and a whole lot of heart.

Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
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